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February 6, 2014
Man's hand saved from amputation with help of 1,400 leeches
Rockford Register Star
ROCKFORD, Ill. — Sam Leon is slowly regaining the use of his left hand.
Although, at times, he wondered whether a prosthetic would have been a better option than months of arduous therapy and recovery. Leon, 32, of DeKalb was working as a machine operator last spring when his hand got caught in a roller-type press. The machine ripped the skin off his fingers, and tore the veins, many of the nerves and some of the arteries to his hand.
He was airlifted by Lifeline helicopter to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, where Dr. Pedro Rodriguez, a plastic surgeon with OSF Medical Group, and Dr. Brian Bear, an orthopedic surgeon with Rockford Orthopedic Associates, had been notified of his case. They had a small window of opportunity to save his hand by repairing the damaged nerves, veins and skin lacerations with surgery and using leeches to keep the hand alive until his body made the hand start working again.